We kick off Round One of The Great VIRAL Debate, following on from Opening Statements. Our participants, Drs Anderson and Rancourt, will now take turns responding to one another. Dr Piers Robinson is our chair. Off-Guardian is your host. The proposition under debate is:
SARS-COV-2 merits suppression measures in order to combat the virus rather than the herd/community immunity approach
Dr Rancourt, arguing against the proposition, responds to Tim Anderson’s Opening Statement from 10 Oct:
Our opening statements were made separately, blindly. We now proceed one after the other. I am going first.
“On the broad debate” Tim tars me as being a “pandemic denier”. I do not deny that there has been a large wave of deaths in an epidemiological context of viral respiratory diseases.
My focus has been to research why the all-cause-mortality-quantified excess deaths have been so different from one jurisdiction to the next (state to state in the USA, province to province in Canada, region to region in France, country to country in Europe, and so on); and the ways in which “science” and “medicine” are misused in the palpable global propaganda campaign, including the propaganda by government public-health directives, law and enforcement.
“On the proposition” Tim advances that SARS-CoV-2 is undeniably more virulent than influenza, and that there is a “scientific consensus” on this point. Both are demonstrably false.
Regarding virulence of the pathogen, Tim quotes incorrect early estimates of the infection fatality rate (IFR), and does not quote the latest CDC summary of IFR values, nor does Tim quote the most complete critical review made by Professor Ioannidis (see my opening statement). Tim follows this by stating: “No responsible health official can afford to just cherry pick the most optimistic estimates.”
Regarding comparison to influenza, Tim fails to appreciate the complexity of the epidemiology of influenza, and the difficulty in calculating meaningful (unbiased) mortality burdens, using statistical models.
Average mortality from epidemic influenza varies 20-fold from locality to locality, and mortality from seasonal influenza varies 100-fold and more with age. The highly-cited longitudinal field study of Loeb et al. (2000) found an influenza-outbreak case fatality ratio (CFR) of 8% in 5 care homes in Toronto over 3 years, a hard number large enough easily to have been the nucleus of a pandemic propaganda campaign. For other cities, Loeb et al. noted :
Rates of pneumonia as high as 42% and case-fatality rates exceeding 70% have been reported in outbreaks due to influenza virus. [their references 8 through 10]
There is also an extensive scientific literature showing that elderly people are not significantly protected from influenza by vaccination, despite the pressures of the massive vaccine industry on the scientific establishment.
Regarding “Neoliberal failures and independent responses”, I reject Tim’s simplistic proposition that a difference in “COVID deaths” between “neoliberal countries (UK, USA, Sweden, Brazil)” and “more independent countries (China, Vietnam, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria)” is caused by decimated medical systems in the West versus responsible medical care management in his list of non-neoliberal (communistic?) countries.
I expect that three factors are more important than Tim’s “they promptly imposed protective quarantine measures”, etc., to explain differences in excess all-cause mortality in the March-April catastrophe period. I use all-cause mortality because the attributed-death statistics are notoriously unreliable.
First, an important factor in comparing Western and non-Western nations is the degree to which the elderly population is housed in care homes versus family homes. There is little doubt that care homes are killing fields for viral respiratory diseases, and that WHO air-ventilation standards “for Infection Control in Health-Care Settings” are not being followed . Ventilation is crucial where there are groups of vulnerable people [3,4]. Natural ventilation will be abundant in homes in hot climates.
Second, viral respiratory disease transmission operates via aerosol particles, which are stable in air only in low absolute humidity conditions. I have reviewed the relevant established science in my articles. This explains: why viral respiratory disease transmission is highly seasonal and predominantly occurs in winter in mid-latitude countries, with reversal in our summer for mid-latitude Southern Hemisphere countries (their winter). Viral respiratory diseases virtually do not transmit in hot and humid (equatorial) countries, or in hot and humid seasons or environments.
For example, if you wanted high transmission in Texas in the summer, you would have to confine the interacting population to air-conditioned closed spaces. Likewise, if you want summer transmission in hospitals, you have to air-condition the air in common areas, and reduce humidity “to control mold and bacterial cultures”, while not paying attention to ventilation as a means to remove aerosols.
Third, confinement, psychological stress, and social isolation of elderly people in care homes or elsewhere are deadly, as is introducing infected patients from hospitals into the care homes. I have reviewed the established relevant science in my articles. In my papers and interviews, I have explained why we should interpret the March-April excess all-cause mortality events (e.g., 30,200 accelerated deaths in France) as having been caused by the government response measures, not any virus acting in an undisturbed society.
So, the simple idea that the funding model of the national health-care system explains the pandemic deaths is not a useful generalization. I agree that the Western countries are vicious and irresponsible towards their own populations. I believe the highest-level driver is geopolitical.
Find out more about our two eminent debaters here
Track this debate’s progress in our Coronavirus Debate Section
2 https://www.who.int/… (WHO seems to have filed this under “Water sanitation hygiene”, rather than highlight its relevance to COVID.)